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Coalition Forces Stress Humanitarian Aid - 2003-03-28

In New York the United Nations Security Council has agreed to revive an oil-for-food program that provides food and medicine to 60 percent of Iraq's population. The United Nations has also issued what it says is its largest-ever appeal to governments for emergency donations of humanitarian aid for the war-torn country. The world body is seeking 2.2 billion dollars. Brian Purchia has the latest on aid efforts in Iraq.

The first coalition ship carrying humanitarian aid has docked at the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The ship, carrying 200 tons of relief supplies, was delayed for days because troops had to destroy mines in the waterway leading to the port.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Qatar that aid workers have been anxiously awaiting the delivery of supplies.

“The British ship (H-M-S) Sir Galahad docked Friday evening carrying a cargo of water, food, medicines, blankets and shelter. Humanitarian organizations were gearing up to begin distribution of the supplies in the port city and surrounding areas.” Coalition forces say addressing the emerging humanitarian crisis is crucial to winning over the Iraqi people. Dr. Simon Chappell of the British Royal Air Force.

“People feel threatened by the regime and they're just ordinary people. We need to win over their hearts and minds to show them we're on the side of good rather than evil as we're being portrayed by the regime."

As coalition soldiers try to keep order, people fight for what never seems to be enough. And there's little of the gratitude coalition politicians had expected.

"Go home America"

The majority of aid on the Gallahad is destined for Basra, where half of the city's 1.3 million residents still do not have access to drinking water.

Meanwhile, there were chaotic scenes in the Iraqi-Kuwait border town of Safwan in southern Iraq as desperate Iraqis fought for food from a supply convoy from neighboring Kuwait.

Since food isn’t arriving fast enough by sea and land, U.S. special operations troops are airdropping food supplies to units on the ground so that they can distribute aid in Iraq.